Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Row80 Round 3: Last check-in

ROW80's Round 3 is officially over tomorrow, that round of 80 days that began three months ago, back in July. So, here's my report card and a very small snippet . . .

Writing: Yes, I've begun researching and drafting Rivers of Stone officially. This is a lovely obsession. Lots of books to read, scenes to write. Yes, that birthday surprise was completed on time -- a review copy of Reaching, my husband's Vietnam era novel. Sadly, I've not done so well with blogging, rather writing in fits and starts instead of a measured progress. And the idea to write a journal/day book about our travels in Scotland simply disappeared.

Reading/Community: Aargh! I'm not tracking what I've read at all, but as stress increases, I read voraciously any escapist story I can find (typically two books a week). No writing craft books. I have critiqued several writers' books, now participate in a face-to-face writing group, and have tried to be supportive to other writers' groups (taught a workshop, attend two different groups once each month).  Although I've been a member of NOVELS-L, the wonderfully helpful online critique group for The Internet Writers Workshop since 2008, I'm thinking of withdrawing for a while. Why? Because I keep falling behind.

Marketing: Yes, I held the coffee launch for Years of Stone and just happily completed this week a well-received reading at Auntie's, an indie bookstore here in Spokane.  And I've been able to schedule a visit to a book club or talk each month through the end of the year through the generosity of some kind readers. But that overall Marketing Plan languishes.

Why this up and down commitment to writing this last month? I don't think I realized the stress I'd feel about my husband's back surgery. His 6" incision down his spine and overnight recovery in the hospital scared me, and the expected, yet very slow recovery reminds me what a gift we have each day with those we love. Someone here on ROW80 mentioned making a commitment to taking at least one day each week off.  I might just need that day.

Meanwhile, we ROW80 aficionados have a break before Round 4, all the way to October 6. I'll be back with new goals, appreciative of what others are dreaming and writing about as we all navigate our way between goals and accomplishments, not regretting the gaps but nurturing our creativity. 

WIPpet Snippet: This round I did do better in posting every Wednesday a snippet from my current work-in-progress -- thanks to Kate Schwengel for hosting and encouraging us. Today, this snippet will be short, being 5 paragraphs for September 23 (2 + 3):

Context:  Catriona has disguised herself as a boy to follow her husband, Dougal, to Upper Canada in the 1840s. Cat, fearful of being discovered and alone now that Dougal has been sent west with the fur brigade, works in a trading post. Here she meets Marie, a country wife.

Marie laughed. "Then where is home? There? Here? Child, you have no home. What if he don't return in the spring? Where will you go then? How will you live?"

Cat was silent for a time. "I don't know. They were going to send me back to the Orkney Islands."

"Maybe you find a man here?"

"I don’t think so,” said Cat. “Show me how you make that rosette." 

Marie pushed the small wooden bowl over and handed a needle to Cat. "String me some red beads. I show you."

Fall at Manito Park, Spokane (Camp 2013)

Enjoy that break. Check in to see how Round 3 has gone for other ROW80 writers HERE

And aren't you curious to see what others have posted for their Weds WIPpet? Go HERE.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Late night, late Weds check-in ROW80

Late? Yep. Tonight the Inland Northwest Writers Group met downtown for a review and lively discussion of social media, led by writer Tina Bratcher. I went. Took notes. The whole discussion reinforced my sense that social media presents real challenges for writers at any stage in their career. The options for getting involved will keep right on morphing. Lucky is the writer who has fun along the way.  Now for my check-in. Not much to report. I seem to be researching wolves and the Red River community in Manitoba this week.

Letitia Hargrave (Wikipedia)
Writing/Research: Starting off this week with a reasonably word count, 2 out of 3 days of real writing, but I'm still thinking I need to know much more basic history of the period as I move ahead on this story. Can't write what I know until I know it. One of my minor characters is a Metis woman who worked as a servant to the very prolific letter-writer, Letitia Hargrave, the proper English wife of the Chief Factor at York Factory, Upper Manitoba in the 1840s. I would so love to know what Margaret Dunnet thought of what she saw happening around her.  Letitia Hargrave's letters are a goldmine, for she comments quite openly on people and events -- including The Red River boarding school. What draws me to this time and very isolated place is the sharp class divides between people (gender and race). Yet, people had dreams and hopes and somehow survived.

Marketing/Community: Making contact with Australian and British potential reviewers. Prepping for the book reading next Tuesday night. Did attend tonight's writers' group.

WEDS SNIPPET: Wednesday is also that day when I post a 'snippet' from my work in progress, Rivers of Stone (dubbed a 'WIPpet' by K. L. Schwengel). Here's a scene when Cat, at the Red River community on her own, yet still disguised as a boy, works at the local store. How much of a snippet? September 17 = 17 sentences.


Cat glanced at the three men huddled by the fireplace and nodded. "I'll go around to the kitchen." She pushed the front door open and stepped into the swirling snow. The cold bit her nose but the air smelled so good after the closeness of the store. She hurried along the side of the log cabin to the back and froze to a stop. 

A skinny wolf swayed in front of her. He lifted his head and stared at her. He sniffed at his right front paw caught in a small trap and looked at her again.

Cat backed up until she could feel the logs of the store behind her.

The wolf flopped on the ground, put his head down, and inched toward her, dragging the trap with him. 

He can't hunt with that thing on his foot, thought Cat. She took a tentative step towards him, putting her hand out slowly. "Hush, now."

The wolf nosed the ground and tilted his head away from her.

Cat crouched down and pried the trap apart. The wolf's foot slithered out. For a moment they looked at each other. The wolf leaped up and bolted into the woods.

May you enjoy the rest of this week with good writing and/or reading. Check in with other ROW80 writers as Round 3 winds down (only one more week to make our goals).

Or drop by K. L. Schwengel's blog to read snippets from other writers willing to share . . . Thank you, Kate!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Night ROW80 check-in: Oh, Sunday night!

What have I learned this week? That I shouldn't pack away those summer clothes just because temps dipped below 40 at night. This week we have afternoons back up in the 80s, and I'm sweltering in this end-of-summer time. As for the rest, I'm grateful for each day that Allen recovers from his surgery. Maybe life will return to normal, whatever that may be. Now for the ROW80 check-in, again, short and still sweet.

Writing/Blogging: I'm too distracted to do much writing, but I did get the next installment up on the writing blog -- Writer's Construction Zone, Part Two -- to look at what we write and how we write. Making a commitment to post at least once a week on the writing blog seems to be working well. Next week, I'll explore: How do we as writers make the best use of limited time for professional development and marketing?

Community/Marketing: Met with my F2F writing group and was surprised once again at how much I see to change in my writing when I just read it out loud.

I'm trying to reach out to Australian readers and am not sure just how to go about this. Perseverance furthers. 

Sir John Franklin, Lieutenant-Governor,
Van Diemen's Land (Wikipedia)
Sent a press release to the local paper, and it worked! Did you read about the discovery of one of Arctic explorer John Franklin's ships, lost in his effort to discover the Northwest Passage? It just happens that my just released Years of Stone is set in Van Diemen's Land, where Sir Franklin served as governor. Here's the resulting article, "Spokane writers buoyed by recent British ship discovery."  Which ties in nicely to the reading I'm doing at a local bookstore here in Spokane later this month.

I'm also very curious about these new subscription services -- by Amazon (Kindle Unlimited), and by Smashwords (Scribd and Oyster).  Subscribers pay about $10/month for unlimited access to books in the program (Amazon touts over 600,000 books).

Does anyone have an opinion? I've looked at the promotion materials for these and wonder if indie writers will simply be lost in the grand pyramid of books being offered. Perhaps this puts even more importance to the marketing that we each must do, especially if we are self-published.

Thank you Sandy Brown Jensen, inspired teacher and digital storyteller, for including my Standing Stones in her list of top ten reads.

ROW80 writers, we're winding down this round and soon will begin again. Link HERE to see what other ROW80 folks are doing this week and offer words of encouragement. Join in, if you like! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Short Row80 check-in but a WIPpet

Sometimes I appreciate the ordinary, the peaceful routine when each day has been chaotic. So progress continues good in the overall sense, but slow. 

Writing: Reorganized the entire draft of Rivers of Stone since Sunday. Finally ready to start drafting again. I'm still feeling my way into the story, though the characters seem very, very real. Progress on other goals? Glacial.

Weds snippet: Just ten paragraphs for the 10th day of September. Context: Dougal has left on the Fur Brigade Express, leaving Cat, disguised as a boy to work at the Trading Depot in Hudson's Bay. It's winter, 1842, and in this next scene, Cat gets into a fight. 

"Hurry up there, Cat. Can't take all day." Jacob pushed Cat's arm as he went by, and the measure cup spilled beads out on the counter and floor.

"That's it," cried Cat. "You don't push me around."

"Knew it," said one of the voyageurs by the stove. "Knew a fight was a comin'."

"Outside, the two of you," called Mackenzie. "I'll fix the mess here. You two fix the mess between you."

Cat saw red. This was no sly polar bear, sneaking around. This was Jacob who talked to her when she most missed Dougal. Now he was her stinking enemy.

They were barely out the door when Jacob jumped her. Cat twisted to the side and sank her teeth into Jacob's wrist until he howled. With a thump, she shoved him off her and slugged his ear. A spurt of blood trickled down his neck.

The cries of the men echoed around her, taking bets. "Hit him again, the little bastard," cried Pete. "I saw what he did."

The two faced each other, and Jacob's face wrinkled into a sneer. "You can't win me. I'm bigger."

"Yeah," taunted Cat. "But not smarter."

Jacob rushed her, but Cat stuck her foot out and tripped him. When Jacob sprawled in the muddy snow, she leaped on his back and pounded his head against the ground. "Say you're sorry," she grunted. "Say you'll leave me alone."

Trading at Hudson's Bay Company Post (Wikipedia)

Read what other writers have posted for Wednesday's SNIPpet, led by Kate Schwengel, HERE.

With only two weeks left in this Round, catch up with inspirational posts by other ROW80 writers HERE.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Row80: Sunday night check-in?

Football season has begun in earnest. All that recruiting, bidding, training, practice, and now, the games begin. And I'm not talking fantasy, but Monday night, Thursday night, and Sunday. Football! At least for some of the fans.

But what about that ROW80 update? How does that compare to the Cowboys? the Steelers? the 49ers? OK, my football analogy just ran out of yardage.  Here's this Sunday's check-in:

Writing/research: 770 words out of the goal of 1,500. But I started on Section 02, having worked the kinks out of the plot overall and deleted most of those winding paths out of Section 01. Steady reading of research with lots of questions added.

Blogging/Community: No F2F meetings this week. No progress on marketing. Blogged three times this week, most notably about that need we writers have to assess where we are and where we're going next in the first of 3-4 posts on "Writers' Construction Zone, Part One." I'd love to have your comments or reactions to this post . . . 

Goals for the coming week:
--Write 1,000 words for Rivers of Stone + continue research.
--Request review for Years of Stone in Australian newspaper.
--Continue weekly posts for Writers' Construction Zone.
--Prep for reading at local bookstore (including marketing).
--Keep pushing the river for decluttering in general, exercise x3 in particular, quilting for fun, and volunteer work to do.
--Priority One: Support my hubby as he continues to heal from back surgery. And so far, so good!

May your week go well! May you achieve your goals, whether that's a mopped kitchen floor or a new ending to a chapter.

Find out what other ROW80 writers are doing HERE.

And celebrate all the good times that Robin Williams brought us.

Source CNN

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

ROW80 Queen of BLT . . . Late but here!

This week I'm the Queen of BLT. As Allen recovers from back surgery, he cannot bend, lift, or twist, or as we've dubbed it, "no BLT." Maybe the toughest part of this experience has been seeing someone I love in pain and not being able to do much about it. So, he's slowly recovering, I'm exhausted, and my new secret weapon is an ice cream called "Chocolate Brownie Thunder." Not to worry, though, no weight gain involved. So far.

ROW80 Update: Not much writing since Sunday. I have a pretty clear idea of how to tighten Section 1 in Rivers of Stone (that current wip with volcanos and mountains and polar bears), but the result is not many new words, so I can't rely on increased word count to motivate me. I'm seeing more "want to" than "done" on my daily journal. But maybe this week and next, I just will do what I can.

Weds WIP: Today's snippet comes from my current Section 1, Rivers of Stone. September (9th month) + 1 for the first week = 10 paragraphs. 

Context:  Orkneyman Dougal and Cat, his wife, disguised as a boy, have joind the Hudson's Bay Company with younger brother Colin. It's late summer, 1842, they've landed at York Factory (Upper Manitoba), and Dougal meets with John Hargrave, Chief Factor, to learn his assignment.

“The M├ętis, sir?  I don’t know much about them.”
“You’ve seen them around the Factory, half-French, half-Indian. They wind up working for us as guides, sometimes on the Fur Brigade, but they don’t always show up, unless they want their pay.” Hargrave sighed. “And sometimes not even then. The Company used to encourage intermarriage.” He stared straight at Dougal and frowned. “But not if you want to advance. The voyageurs are a rough lot. Just as ready to fight as they are to drink. You’ll see. We’re short a few men. I’m sending you out on the Fur Brigade.”
“That’s what I hoped for, sir. But my two brothers both hired on with me. Can they come west as well?”
“Are they strong men, like you?”
“They’re hard workers, sir. Colin’s next oldest. He’s near eighteen and Cat, we call him Cat, is younger.”
“How young?”
Dougal thought as fast as he could.  “Fifteen, sir.”
Hargrave gave him a hard stare. “He’s too young to go.”
“Cat’s a good worker, sir.” Dougal leaned forward. “He can read and write.  Ever since we heard about the Fur Brigade Express, sir, he wants to go.”
“Reading and writing won’t help him on the road. He’s still too young. Tell him to report for duty at the Trading House. I can use another copyist. He can bunk at the Clerks’ House.” Hargrave sniffed. “He’s too young to be in the barracks. And you, tell Jacques Fronteneau that you and your other brother, not the younger one, have been added to the roster.” Hargrave made a note in his ledger book. “I’ll need that youngest brother of yours to start today. We’re still taking pelts in as fast as we can. That’s all, McDonnell.”
Frances Anne Hopkins, "Voyageurs at Dawn, 1871" (Wikipedia)

Check in with other ROW80 writers HERE.

And read what other WIPpet writers have written HERE. You might start with Kate Schwengel's post about a giveaway . . . 

May your week go well.